“What you NEED to know”,  “Was man wissen muss” and “Vad man behöver veta” : A contrastive corpus study of  NEED to and its German and Swedish correspondences in non-fiction

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk (SPR)

Abstract: This study investigates how the semi-modal need to is translated into German/Swedish and which German/Swedish correspondences are translated into need to. To this end, the Linnaeus University English–German–Swedish Corpus (LEGS) is used. Nida’s (1964: 159-162) concept of formal and dynamic equivalence is used to perform the qualitative analysis and to discuss the results from the quantitative part of the study. The use of semi-modals such as be going to, have to and want to have increased during the second half of the 20th century (Leech et al.: 2009: 99). need to represents the obligation as being in the best interest of the subject and is associated with objectivity (Kastrone 2008: 829; Aijmer 2017: 28) Thus, need to is used to distance the speaker to avoid an authoritarian stance. This trend is a sign of an ongoing democratization (Leech et al. 2009: 270). The results showed that the preferred German translation is müssen (‘must’) (55%) and  the preferred Swedish translation is behöva (‘need’) (47%). ‘Other’ is the second preferred German translation and the third preferred Swedish translation. These results are reflected in the structures translated from German and Swedish. The results indicate that the semantic category of the co-occurring main verb and the co-occurring subject affect translation. Based on these results, it could be said that English, followed by Swedish, is leading the process of democratization. However, further studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

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